House works on final approval of P1.3-T ARISE bill for economic recovery

By Charissa Luci-Atienza 

The House leadership vowed on Tuesday (June 2) to shepherd the final approval of the proposed P1.3 trillion Accelerated Recovery and Investments Stimulus for the Economy (ARISE) bill before Congress adjourns sessions sine die this week.

On a vote of 261 to 18, the Senate and the House of Representatives decide to extend martial law in Mindanao up to December 31, 2017 in a joint, special session at the Batasang Pambansa yesterday. Inset photo shows Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III (left) and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez presiding over the session that lasted more than seven hours. (Jansen Romero, Alvin Kasiban) House of the Representatives (Manila Bulletin File Photo)

Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez said the Lower Chamber will flex its muscles to approve the three-year economic stimulus for workers, which seeks P568 billion for this year and P650 billion for 2021.

"We are committed to pass this measure to ensure the nation’s survival," he said, adding that the bill seeks to benefit 16 million workers and create three million short-term jobs.

On Monday (June 1), the House of Representatives passed on second reading ARISE as provided under House Bill (HB) No. 6815, which will help rebuild the economy.

“The approval of the economic stimulus package will ensure the availability of jobs and continuity of business for millions of Filipinos -- a stimulus program that seeks to restore our economic growth, maintain employment levels, and expand the country's productive capacity,” Romualdez said.

The ARISE measure is set to create 1.5 million jobs through the implementation of infrastructure projects, and financially assist 5.57 million micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), he noted.

Under the bill, the Department of Health's (DoH) mass testing program shall be given P10 billion funding for this year and next year.

“We have to jumpstart our economic activities while keeping our people healthy, the soonest time possible to ensure our survival as a nation,” Romualdez said.

“As we create more jobs and try to jumpstart our economy, we also need to work double time to ensure that health standards and protocols are geared towards protecting the vulnerable sectors of our society,” he added.

Last week, the Defeat COVID-19 Ad Hoc Committee (DCC), co-chaired by Romualdez and Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, approved the panel report on the economic stimulus program, formerly the Philippine Economic Stimulus Act (PESA).

House ways and means committee chair and economic stimulus response
package subcommittee chair Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda said ARISE will be funded by the Department of Finance (DoF) through the Bureau of Treasury.

He also identified government financial institutions and government-owned corporations, as well as bonds, as among the funding sources.

The House leader noted that HB 6815 also empowers the Chief Executive to realign within six months the government's forced savings and other items that remain unspent due to COVID-19 pandemic.

The bill provides a P110 billion wage subsidy for the self-employed, freelancers, and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) for a period of two months.

The economic stimulus package also includes P25 billion for Department of Labor and Employment's cash-for-work program this year to benefit three million beneficiaries, and P5 billion assistance for technical and vocational learners.

Under the House economic package assistance, various sectors will be assisted: tourism (P58 billion), transportation (P70 billion), industry and
service sectors (P44 billion), and agri-fishery (P66 billion).

The ARISE bill also seeks to extend the validity of the 2019 and 2020 General Appropriations Acts to next year.